June 1, 2010

USPTO expands green technology fast-track program

On  December 8, 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched the "Green Technology Pilot Program" to allow patent applications pertaining to green technologies to go to the front of the line for examination, thereby significantly shortening the patent review process.

The goal of the 12 month program was to promote the development of green technologies, accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector.

The program mandated that only the first 3,000 petitions would be accepted for expedited review, and was limited to just a few classifications of inventions (pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources or greenhouse gas emission reduction). 

However, to date, only 342 applications have been accepted to the program out of more than 950 requests. The reason so many applications were denied was because many of the inventions weren’t in the specific classifications that were eligible for the expedited program.

So, in a commendable act of efficiency, the USPTO officially removed the classification requirements for the program.  They noted that the criteria was "unnecessary" and caused the denial of petitions for applications that are drawn to green technologies. The office hopes that this easing of the guidelines will permit more applications to qualify for the program, thereby allowing more inventions related to green technologies to be advanced out of turn for examination and reviewed earlier.

“There has been a tremendous amount of interest in the Green Technology Pilot Program, and we would like to enable applicants whose inventions did not fall within the initial classifications eligible for the program to be eligible,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “By expanding the eligibility criteria for this program, will further accelerate the development of critical green technologies while creating new jobs.”

Applicants whose petitions were dismissed or denied solely on the basis that their applications did not meet the classification requirement may file a renewed petition. If the renewed petition is filed within one month of the Federal Register notice publication, it will be given priority as of the date the applicant filed the initial petition.

To participate in the pilot program, applicants must still file a petition under the Green Technology Pilot Program that satisfies all other requirements set forth in the December 8, 2009, Federal Register notice.  More details on the expansion of the Green Technology Pilot Program can be found in the May 21, 2010 Federal Register notice. Additional information on the Green Technology Pilot Program can be found on the USPTO’s Web site.

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